The Lobby

Lee & Associates and Affiliate Add Third Firm to Partnership

James Wacht

Lee & Associates and its Sierra Real Estate affiliate have recruited Cogswell Realty into a three-way partnership for management of a vast property portfolio and potential future acquisitions called Cogswell Lee Development Group, Commercial Observer has learned.

Sierra and Cogswell have worked together in joint property and construction management arrangements since 2012, but the new partnership will allow the companies to offer superior products and services to their clients, said James Wacht, the president of Lee & Associates and Sierra. Read More

Lease Beat

Fashion Designer Renews in Garment District

263 West 38th Street.

You can say it’s staying a part of the fabric of the neighborhood. Women’s clothing designer Susana Monaco will keep her eponymous company at Handler Real Estate Organization‘s 263 West 38th Street in the Garment District through a long-term, 6,000-square-foot renewal for the building’s entire 17th floor, Commercial Observer has learned.

The knit-specialist and dress designer who has outfitted celebs like Cynthia Nixon, Denise Richards and Kristen Stewart has operated a showroom and office space at the property with asking rents of $41 per square foot since 1999, Handler officials said. Read More

Mortgage Observer

Emerald Creek Lends $23M For LES Condo Project

50 Clinton Street

New York-based private equity firm Emerald Creek Capital provided a $23 million acquisition/ bridge loan for the purchase of a development site on the Lower East Side.

Sponsor DHA Capital intends to build a mixed-use project at the site, located at 50 Clinton Street. The building will hold seven-stories of residential condominiums as well as retail, a gym and roof deck for residents.  Read More

The Plan

The Plan: 635-641 Avenue of the Americas

635-641 Avenue of the Americas

SL Green Realty Corp. is nearing completion of its 12-month, $15 million renovation and recombining of what used to be two separate buildings at 635-641 Avenue of the Americas between West 19th and West 20th Streets, Steven Durels, the company’s director of leasing and real property, told Commercial Observer. The company owns two of the three buildings that used to comprise one department store in the Ladies Mile Historic District after architect William Hume completed it in 1902. And shortly after purchasing the two buildings for $173 million in 2012, SL Green set about turning the building at 635 Avenue of the Americas, which had become an auto mechanic instruction school, into the second half of a repositioned office property. “When we bought the building, it was apparent to us that there was the opportunity to create something special,” Mr. Durels said. The building at 641 was already a complete office building. Read More


The Imaginative Lobbies of TAMI-heavy Midtown South [Updated]

Chelsea Castle

Landlords looking to woo the next generation of tenants in the trendy and tight Midtown South district have embraced imaginative designs in their front lobbies and reception areas as the district takes on a “cultural indicator” status previously held by more heralded traditional office properties on Park and Madison Avenues, said Thomas Vecchione, the design director and principal of the Gensler architecture, design and branding firm. “Lobbies are starting to engage communities so that there’s a community of like-minded tenants there,” Mr. Vecchione explained. “They’re not about the big corporate presence anymore; they’re about the cultural touch points.”

Commercial Observer collected a snapshot group of six office buildings in Midtown South where landlords or tenants have implemented novel approaches to greeting employees and visitors in their lobbies, including two from Gensler. Read More

The Sit-Down

Gregg Schenker: Midtown South’s Straight Shooter

Gregg Schenker

Fresh off of putting the finishing touches on the purchase of a retail property in Astoria, Queens, ABS Real Estate Partners President Gregg Schenker invited Commercial Observer in to his office overlooking Union Square. In a space decorated with family pictures and closing sale and financing binders, the 48-year-old married father of two explained the vision behind the 335-employee company and its 6-million-square-foot portfolio primarily in Midtown South. Mr. Schenker, a Manhattan native and New York University alum, also dished on new deals like the Queens acquisition he and an ABS team had just completed. The buy didn’t represent the company’s first in the boroughs, nor the last, he hinted. But before hitting the outer boroughs, CO asked the former Helmsley Spear broker how he and the other company execs knew to invest in Midtown South and why technology, advertising, media and information, or TAMI, tenants like the neighborhood so much. Read More

Power Broker

L&L’s Andrew Wiener Is Building With Legos

Andrew Weiner. (Adam Jones)

Andrew Wiener of L&L Holding Company has worked on high-profile Midtown South deals like Lego System’s new flagship at the former International Toy Center and Gawker Media’s 2015 planned relocation to 114 Fifth Avenue.

The director of leasing for the privately held owner, operator and property manager, Mr. Wiener partners with veteran David C. Berkey, and the duo, along with Samantha Fishbone, are tasked with leasing the firm’s 6.5-million-square-foot portfolio of Class A commercial office buildings primarily in Manhattan. Read More

Mortgage Observer

Houston Office Loan Goes to Servicer Watchlist as Vacancies Mount

Park Towers in Houston.

A $96.7 million CMBS loan on a four-office portfolio in Houston was added to Midland Loan Services’ watchlist this month as tenant vacancies at the properties continue to stack up, according to a report issued today by the financial research firm Trepp.

Three tenants occupying more than a third of the portfolio, which includes the 18-story office buildings Park Towers South and Park Towers North, have relocated or will vacate the properties before November, servicer notes obtained by Trepp show. Read More

The Lobby

NGKF Beefs Up Retail Brokerage with Seven Hires

NGKF logo

Newmark Grubb Knight Frank has added seven experienced retail brokers from prominent brokerages to its ranks over the past two months, Commercial Observer has learned.

Veteran dealmakers Thomas Citron of Cushman & Wakefield, Matthew Krell of CBRE and Howard Gilbert of RKF headline the migration to NGKF as the firm continues its global growth following its 2011 purchase by BGC Partners. Read More

Lease Beat

MUFG Union Bank Takes 200K SF at McGraw-Hill Building

1221 Avenue of the Americas.

MUFG Union Bank has signed a lease for 209,700 square feet on the bottom three floors of the McGraw-Hill Building in one of the year’s largest new leases, The New York Post reported.

The Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group subsidiary is consolidating several Manhattan offices at the Rockefeller Group’s building, at 1221 Avenue of the Americas between West 48th and West 49th Streets. MUFG Union Bank also has office space at 1251 Avenue of the Americas. Read More

Lease Beat

Online Menswear Clothing Company Lands in Midtown [Update]

Rendering of 455 Madison Avenue, at left. (Neoscape)

A high-end men’s online clothing and personal styling company is opening its first New York storefront showroom, and the Chicago-based company has chosen East Midtown for the new digs.

Trunk Club, which has showrooms in other cities, has leased 26,190 square feet over six floors, comprising the entire north building of the Villard Houses at 457 Madison Avenue between 50th and 51st Streets. The mansion’s courtyard leads to the entrance to The New York Palace hotel, and the south building is home to a restaurant and hotel amenities.  Read More

Lease Beat

Ad Tech Company Inks Big West Village Relocation

95 Morton Street

Digital ad valuation company Integral Ad Science has more than quadrupled its New York City office footprint through a 10-year, 25,000-square-foot lease for the entire eighth floor at the Brickman real estate private equity firm’s 95 Morton Street in the West Village.

The company that provides an assessment platform for digital marketing buyers and sellers relocated from a 6,000-square-foot space near Union Square late last month to the space one block east of the Hudson River between Greenwich Street and Washington Street with asking rents of $75 per square foot, according to Brickman officials. The company’s expanded staff played a large role in the move, said Integral Ad Science CEO Scott Knoll. Read More

Lease Beat

Asset Management Firm Expands, Relocates Within 444 Madison

444 Madison Avenue.

Houston, Texas-based Salient Partners is expanding and relocating its New York office within the same building where it already has space, Commercial Observer has learned.

The asset management firm last week signed a 10-year direct lease for 4,512 square feet of prebuilt space on the 22nd floor of the former Newsweek Building at 444 Madison Avenue, according to a spokesman for Avison Young. Salient Partners, which has over $22 billion under management, has been a subtenant in the 42-story building, which is between East 49th and East 50th Streets, occupying about half the amount of space. The asking rent in the building was $82 per foot. Read More